Hubert Lawrence | Relay practice is key for Doha success

first_imgWhen track historians want to illustrate that the 4x100m can be won by teams without breakneck sprinters, they present the 1990 French team as the test case. Together, Max Moriniere, Daniel Sangouma, Jean-Charles Trouabal and Bruno Marie-Rose took the world record from the USA at the European Championships with a fine time of 37.90 seconds. Moriniere, Sangouma, Trouabal and Marie-Rose weren’t tearaway sprinters individually, but their high-speed baton movements made them formidable and it took a great USA team, anchored by Carl Lewis, to regain the record and to deny the French the 1991 World Championship gold medals. The reigning world champion team, Great Britain, is a bit like that. When Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Netheneel Mitchell-Blake edged the USA to win the 2017 World title, their individual season’s best times were 9.97, 10.08, 10.37 and 9.99 seconds, respectively. Although those numbers amass to 40.41 seconds, Ujah, Gemili, Talbot and Mitchell-Blake combined to set a British record 37.47 seconds. BRITS’ PERFORMANCE Determined running and great baton passing by the Brits outpaced an American quartet led by the 100-metre gold and silver medallists Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman. That team’s accumulated season’s bests added up to 39.74. By comparison, the top four in the 100 metres at our National Senior Championships – Yohan Blake, Tyquendo Tracey, Rasheed Dwyer and Seno-J Givans – produced times of 9.96, 10.00, 10.10 and 10.13 seconds and a combined time of 40.19. The numbers and chapters of relay history suggest that Jamaica could go really fast in Doha, when the World Championships 4x100m contest begins in October. If the 40.41 British team can run 37.47 seconds, so can we. There is time between the second leg of the Diamond League final in Brussels on September 6 and the start of the World Championships on September 28 to give this team a chance. Things are different now from those heady days when Jamaica ruled men’s sprinting from 2008 to 2016. There was so much individual speed available that the team merely needed to get the stick around, and the speed would take care of business. Now we are much more like the 1990 French team and the current British World Championships team. Now we need to be slick with the baton. In 2017, the Brits produced a 2.94-second differential between the individual season’s best and the relay time, with the Americans at 2.22. When Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Blake and the incomparable Usain Bolt won the 2012 Olympic gold medal in the world record time of 36.84 seconds, the difference was 2.43 seconds. If the 2019 team passes the baton that well, the outcome will be a time of 37.76. No team has ever run that fast and missed a medal at the World Championships. If Givans, Blake, Dwyer and Tracey practise well enough to replicate the 2017 baton passing differential of 2.94 seconds, they would produce a time of 37.25 seconds. That has only been surpassed once in World Championship history. In 2011, at the Daegu Worlds, Carter, Frater, Blake and Bolt clicked to a world record 37.04 seconds. The 36.84 and the 37.04 were achieved when Jamaica had individual speed to burn. Those days are gone. To do well in the 4x100m relay in these circumstances, our team needs to be well drilled. Fortunately, there is time to prepare like France did in 1990 and like Great Britain did in 2017. Practice is the key. Hubert lawrence is a track and field analyst and commentator.last_img